Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Grow Hoppy Hops...Part 1

Fortunately Spring is almost upon us...a great thing as I don't think I could handle anymore snow. We moved into the house the middle of last August so no thought had to go into the yard…until now. My father loves to spend his weekends playing in the mulch and dirt and feels that I should “take pride in my home” and do the same. If there were the extra money in the budget right now, I’d pay the gardener and sip some Summer Ale as I directed the work to be done. Alas, this is not the case, so unless I hit the lotto in the next week or two having a nice yard to have some good summer bashes in is all on us.

The easiest way for me to take ownership in something is to find a way to make a least a little part of it interesting for me, and then the rest will fall in place. So since I brew my own beer and don’t want the lawn to be brown all summer…I have opted to dedicate two of the six garden bays in the back of the property to growing hops.

Hops will grow like weeds once they are about three years old, but the first year or two you have to nurture them like a newborn – so having to water the hops daily, will mean the lawn and flowers will get tended to as well. It also means that I can take brewing to a whole new level with using homegrown ingredients. Most importantly, come harvest time next August, we will have plenty of for decorating/centerpieces/boutonnieres (and hopefully still a batch or two of brew)!

Since this is my first go at this I figured it would be fun to incorporate this new adventure into the blog. I just ordered a book to fill in the gaps of what I’ve learned online and the hop rhizomes should be shipping about mid-April. I selected Cascade and Centennial – as Cascade is one of the most versatile and I had an awesome IPA made with Centennial (that I want to replicate) when Mel and I went down to check out Triumph Brewpub in Princeton as a potential venue.

The plants should go from 6” roots to 5’ to 8’ tall this first year…so stay tuned to hear how we grow our hoppy hops!

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